Categories
Tourism Malaysia

CHASING WILDLIFE IN SABAH

They say travel broadens the mind, and I totally agree with that statement. However, the more I travel, the more I begin to appreciate all things back home, be it food, culture, nature or even our wildlife. I mean we saved enough money to go all the way to Africa for example, so that we can see the lions or cheetahs running wild in their own habitat but did it ever cross our mind to do the same thing in our own country. Do we even know what kind of species of wildlife that are unique to our country or native to the Asian region?

I wonder whether we care enough about our wildlife to do at least the simplest thing or take the smallest step to conserve and protect our animals whether they are endangered or not.

Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Lahad Datu

My quest to learn more about our wildlife had taken me all the way to the east coast of Sabah, Lahad Datu, to be exact. It is where Tabin Wildlife Reserve, the largest of its kind in Malaysia is located. Mind you, it took me about 3 hours and 20 minutes to reach the wildlife reserve from the airport in Tawau. I chose to stay at the river lodge owned by Tabin Wildlife Resort, which was located within the wildlife reserve.

The mummified remains of Puntung

While waiting for
the sun to go down so that I could go for the night safari, I took the
opportunity to visit its Visitor Centre to learn more about the wildlife
reserve. This was where I met Puntung, well, the mummified remains of her, that
is. Puntung was one of the last trio of the Sumatran Rhinos that lived in
captivity at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve after the species was declared extinct
by the Government of Malaysia in 2015. I could hardly hold back my tears when the
guide told me the story of Puntung’s life. When they found her in the wild in
2011, she was missing a front left foot, believed to be caught in a poacher’s
snare when she was a baby and yet she survived for so many years in isolation.
However, Puntung had to be euthanized in 2017 because she was suffering from
cancer.

Last May, we also lost the only male rhino we had, Tam, who died of old age. Right now, Iman is the nation’s sole remaining member of its species in Malaysia but she is also suffering from cancer. The Borneo Rhino Alliance or BORA, a non-profit company, had tried so hard to keep the Sumatran Rhinos from going extinct but it wasn’t meant to be. The heartbreaking story of our Sumatran rhinos made me feel helpless but at the same time just made me more determined to go and see our native animals in the wild as many as I can before they disappeared.

Finally, the time had come for me to take a ride on the makeshift truck to hunt for the nocturnal animals in the wild, and instead of a rifle, I was equipped with camera and handphones. I was hoping to see some magnificent creatures along the way, but unfortunately I wasn’t lucky enough. However, I did get to see the pygmy elephants’ droppings and footprints though. I suspected my guide was one of those nocturnal creatures himself because his eyesight was so sharp, he could spot a small flying squirrel on top of the trees in the dark of the night. For the first time ever, I got to see a flying squirrel glided through the air between trees in the blink of an eye, thanks to my guide.

Searching hard for the nocturnal creatures

We spotted a Buffy Fish Owl trying to capture its victim at the lake, hornbills, a family of civets climbing up the trees probably looking for a new home, a couple of Bornean wild cats roaming between the tall grass looking for rats and that’s about it. It’s probably not much but the experience was exhilarating and it was such a great feeling to know that our wildlife can roam free at this wildlife reserve and I could just imagine the orangutans making their nests to sleep at night deep in the forest, and somewhere out there the pygmy elephants (the world’s smallest elephant) were having the time of their lives. And also, during the whole journey, don’t forget to look up because you will get to see all the beautiful twinkling stars with your own naked eyes, something that you can’t experience in the big cities.

Having fun at the Lipad mud volcano
A hornbill is spotted perching on top of the tree

The next morning, I went for a short hike to check out the well-known Lipad mud volcano and I was so glad to see an eagle, one of the eight species of hornbill, a monitor lizard and the macaques along the way. The active Lipad Mud Volcano is an elevated muddy hill with warm, salty mud bubbling from below the surface almost continuously; occasionally, the mud volcanoes have mild eruptions that add to their height and scatter small stones around. It is an area frequented by wildlife and birds for much-needed minerals and nourishment – and the evidence is in the foot/paw prints left behind on the grey mud. I saw a few footprints of the pygmy elephants at the mud volcano. While there, I came across a couple of tourists returning from the mud volcano and was informed that they camped all night at the observation tower at the mud volcano to spy on the animals that visited the place at night. Oh my, why didn’t I think of that?

Kinabatangan River, Bilit Village

My plan to chase the wildlife of Borneo did not end at Tabin Wildlife Reserve. This lowland part of Sabah has plenty of spots for wildlife sightings. I took another one hour and a 22-minute journey to the Lahad Datu airport to fly to Sandakan for another wildlife adventure. After the half an hour flight, I arrived at the Sandakan airport and went straight to Bilit in Kinabatangan, which took me about 2 hours and 9 minutes to reach the place. I chose to stay at the Mynes Resort, which was situated on the banks of the Kinabatangan River. Upon arriving at the resort, my guide brought me straight to the jetty for a river cruise. My aim was to take a closer look at Sabah’s most famous primates – the proboscis monkeys or also known as the “dutch monkeys”, as well as the orangutans.

Baby proboscis

The cruise took about 45-minutes and at first all I saw were the macaques and gibbons until the boatman suddenly steered the boat closer to the river bank, and that was when I saw a male proboscis monkey with its harem munching on leaves while sitting on the branches on the top of the trees. Oh, what a beautiful sight! Endemic to Borneo, these endangered monkeys are easily recognisable because of their comical appearance e.g. big noses and protruding bellies. Compared to other exotic creatures in Sabah, the proboscis monkey is the most likely to be spotted in the wild, due to their proximity to the rivers. I was a bit disappointed about not being able to spot orangutans, pygmy elephants or even Irrawaddy dolphins, but sunset at the Kinabatangan River was simply breathtaking, that I can guarantee.

The next morning I took another chance on the river cruise because I wanted to see more of the wildlife there. Lo and behold, I got more than I bargained for because my guide spotted a huge female crocodile on the river bank patiently waiting for its prey while a baby crocodile was playing near the water. I was, you can say, entranced by the size and beauty of the crocodile. This was my first time seeing wild crocodiles in their natural element. It was exhilarating but also a bit scary. I could just imagine their massive jaws crushing down on their victim before drowning it. But that was the highlight of my morning cruise though. On the way back, I spotted a troop of silver leaf monkeys, and pig-tailed macaques. Not bad for an early morning cruise but I was a happy camper, after all I was dealing with nature, and they didn’t follow our rules, we followed theirs. So I left Bilit with beautiful memories and headed back towards the city of Sandakan for another 2-hour plus journey.

Sandakan

I know that orangutans live a solitary existence so it is almost impossible to see them in their natural habitat, which was why I made the decision to visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, located about 25km north of Sandakan. This internationally well-known centre helps rehabilitate the orphaned, injured and displaced orangutans before returning them to the wild. I arrived early to secure the best spot at the feeding platform so that I could get a closer look at our beloved orangutans. I started to get excited when I saw two rangers arriving with fruits and sugar canes and placing them on the feeding platform, approximately 60 feet from the viewing platform. It was just my luck I guess, no orangutans turned up to eat the fruits that day. So many international visitors were there waiting patiently for the orangutans to appear but we all left with disappointment.

The youngsters eating and playing in
outdoor nursery

However, fret not because there was an outdoor nursery, which was just a short walk from the feeding platform where you can watch orphaned youngsters at play. I spent almost half an hour observing the youngsters eating and playing behind the glass window. When the youngsters were moved to the outdoor nursery, it meant that they had become more independent and were less emotionally dependent to their care-takers, and for that I am thankful for the hard work done by the staff at the rehabilitation centre.

I ended my quest to see as many wildlife as I can in the lowland of Sabah by visiting one of my favourite animals, the cute sun bears at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSCC), just next to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. The BSCC is the only sun bear conservation centre in the world.  I must tell you that sun bear is listed as vulnerable in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. So, I suggest that you add seeing sun bear before they disappear in your bucket list. The sun bear is the smallest and the second rarest bear species, after the giant panda. Wouldn’t you feel proud to have such rare bears in your own backyard? Once I met them, it was love at first sight. They were just so adorable, thus making you feel like wanting to protect them from any threat. All 43 of them at the centre were rescued sun bears.

Mary, the lovable sun bear

If you plan to visit
the centre, look up for the lovable Mary, the cutest little sun bear I have
ever seen and she’s very friendly towards us, human despite her sad upbringing.
She was captured by poachers and kept as a house pet in Ranau district (West
coast part of Sabah). Due to her unbalanced diet, she showed symptoms of
calcium deficiency like walking in an abnormal way and shorter body structure.
Now that Mary’s physical condition has improved, she can climb around like
other bears. And if you are lucky, you will get to meet the founder of the
centre, the Penang-born wildlife biologist Dr. Wong Siew Te who was once hailed
as a CNN Hero. (CNN Heroes is created by the American Cable News Network to
honour individuals who make extraordinary contributions to humanitarian aid and
make a difference in their communities).

It is my hope that this article can help evoke the interest among Malaysians to visit the east coast of Sabah to see the wildlife that is endemic to Borneo. Many of them are either extinct, endangered or vulnerable, so it is not too late for us to explore those places and the most important thing is the proceeds will go to protecting more habitats and conservation activities. It means that playing tourist can actually help save, protect and conserve our wildlife.

Tabin Wildlife Resort:
Location: KM 49, Jalan Tungku, Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia.
Tel: +6 088 267266
E-mail:[email protected]
GPS Location: 5° 11′ 15.35″ N 118° 30′ 8.47″ E
Website: http://www.tabinwildlife.com.my
FB: https://www.facebook.com/Tabin-Wildlife-Holidays-Borneo–111441605544390/

Myne Resort:
Location: Kampung Bilit, Kinabatangan, Sabah
Tel: +6089 278288 / 278291
E-mail: [email protected][email protected]
Facebook: Myne Travel Resort

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre
Location: Batu 14, Jalan Labuk Sandakan , Sabah WDT200, 9009 Sandakan, Sabah.
Tel: +60 89 633 587
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: http://www.wildlife.sabah.gov.my/?q=en/content/sepilok-orangutan-rehabilitation-centre

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSCC)
Location: BSBCC, PPM 219, Elopura, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah
Tel: ​+60 89-534491
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: https://www.bsbcc.org.my/
FB: https://www.facebook.com/sunbear.bsbcc
 

Article source: http://blog.tourism.gov.my/feed/

Categories
Tourism Malaysia

5 REASONS TO GO WILD AT TABIN

Malaysia is known as one of the world’s most biodiverse destinations. Its rich habitat system ranging from lush wetlands to towering highland forests creates the perfect environment for all kinds of plant and wildlife species to thrive. For a true tropical rainforest experience in search of Borneo’s exotic flora and fauna, look no further than Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu, Sabah.

Tabin Wildlife Reserve, just an hour’s flight from Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of Sabah, stretches over 300,000 acres of lowland dipterocarp forest in the eastern part of the state. It is considered the largest wildlife reserve in Malaysia, being home to a large number of animals inhabiting its forests, some of which are highly endangered.

Whether you consider yourself a bird lover, a herpetologist or a casual nature lover, Tabin Wildlife Reserve has plenty of gems to keep you occupied and amazed. And after you tire of your adventures at the end of the day, Tabin has 20 units of cozy jungle-facing and river-facing lodges made of local timber, where you can rest up before taking on the next day’s explorations. To fuel up, their Sunbird Café has consistently received great reviews for the excellent food.

If you’re ready, here are 5 reasons why you need to go wild at Tabin Wildlife Reserve!

Reason No. 1: Elephants at your doorstep
Imagine taking a morning stroll around the resort area and bumping into a herd of elephants. Such sightings, though rare and not guaranteed, have been reported by Tabin guests and are highly anticipated.

The Borneo Pygmy Elephant (the world’s smallest elephant), along with the Sumatran Rhinoceros and Tembadau, are considered as three of Sabah’s largest mammals. They are some of the endangered animals that call Tabin their home, aside from seven of the eight primates, the largest predator – clouded leopard – and many smaller carnivorous animals.

Besides these, Tabin is also home to orangutans, sambar deer, sunbears, mousedeer, and otters and the park management has marked out trails in their names for visitors to explore. Trekking through these nature trails provides a wonderful chance to explore and learn about exotic rainforest trees, medicinal plants, rich fauna and the opportunity to sight rare animal and bird species.

Reason No. 2: Birds in paradise
If you are an avid birdwatcher, then Tabin is your paradise with more than 300 birds species recorded here, including all eight of Sabah’s Hornbill species. In fact, Tabin has been listed as an important Bird Area, too (IBA:MY027).

A die-hard birdwatcher once visited Tabin and recorded sightings of 94 species of birds in a day!

Other sought-after species, such as the Blue-headed Pitta, Black-and-crimson Pitta, Malaysian Blue Flycatcher, Temminck’s Sunbird, Purple-throated Sunbird, Everett’s White-eye, Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker, and rarely seen species such as Storm’s Stork, Jambu Fruit Dove, Large Green Pigeon, White-fronted Falconet, Great-billed Heron and Giant Pitta have been sighted in Tabin.

The largely lowland dipterocarp forest attracts an amazingly rich diversity of birds, including rare and endemic species, due to the abundance of food plants here. The relatively low canopy with sufficient natural lights makes birding and photography a delightful experience.

And you don’t have to go far to start your bird count. Sipping your coffee at the Sunbird Cafe, your eyes will be kept busy following active species such as the Black-backed Kingfisher and Red-throated Sunbird. If you’re too lazy to venture out, do some birdwatching from your lodge’s balcony overlooking the Lipad River, and you’ll be rewarded with some colourful winged discoveries, too.

Reason No. 3: Natural mud “spa” in the rainforest
Trekking to the Lipad Mud Volcano within the Tabin Wildlife Reserve is an experience indeed. One minute you are walking among tall dipterocarp trees, maneuvering over stray branches or roots, the next minute, you are in an open-air, canopy-less field of mud.

The active Lipad Mud Volcano is an elevated muddy hill with warm, salty mud bubbling from below the surface almost continuously; occasionally, the mud volcanoes have mild eruptions that add to their height and scatter small stones around. It is an area frequented by wildlife and birds for much-needed minerals and nourishment – and the evidence is in the foot/paw prints left behind on the grey mud.

The adventurous can go squelching ankle-deep in the mud, and experience a therapeutic clay facial mask. Just slather it on your face, let it sit there and wash off in the comfort of your log cabin.

Nearby is an observation tower where one can stake out for hours to catch a glimpse of the wildlife that visit the mud volcano daily.

Reason No. 4: Frogging for joy
Herpetologists, or those fascinated by frogs and toads, can jump for joy at Tabin. It is home to approximately 26 species of unique anurans (frogs and toads), of which 12 are endemic to Borneo, and 1 is endemic to Sabah.

Admire the beautiful patterns and unique markings of these various anurans: the Saffron-Bellied Frog which will make your finger yellow if you touch the yellow blotches on their body; White-Lipped Frog; Harlequin Tree Frog; Bornean Horned Frog, the only species with 3 derma projections; ‘translucent frog’ and Giant River Toad, just to name a few.

Also, there is the Tree Hole Frog, an endemic species, which changes its call tones daily according to the weather and the Jade Tree Frog, a near-threatened species which has translucent skin and visible turquoise bones.

Reason No. 5: Night safari
After dinner, hop on the resort’s jeep to explore Tabin in the dark. Many nocturnal wildlife and birds come out looking for food during this time.

With the skillful and sharp-eyed guides of Tabin, along with their high-powered torch lights, you will be able to spot a variety of wildlife such as owls, monitor lizards, pig-tailored macaques, pygmy elephants, frogs, civet cats and more.

Don’t forget to look up at the night sky and scatterings of stars – the constellations in this part of the world are just amazing!

Contact Information:

Tabin Wildlife Holidays Sdn Bhd
Lot 11-1, 1st Floor, Block A, Damai Point,
Jalan Damai, 88300 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Tel: +60 88-267 266, +60 88-258 266
Email : [email protected]
Website: tabinwildlife.com.my

Getting There:

By Air
Daily flights connect Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu. Flight duration is about 1 hour. From Lahad Datu, a 1:15 hour drive, part of it on gravel road, will take you to Tabin.

By Road
Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu (7 hours)

Sandakan to Lahad Datu (4 hours)

Tawau to Lahad Datu (4 hours)

Article source: http://blog.tourism.gov.my/feed/

Categories
Wonderful Malaysia

Tourism in Sabah is commencement to recover

Tourism in Sabah that had taken a tough strike from a Lahad Datu dispute is commencement to recover, according to attention players who contend tourists are entrance back.

In Sandakan, Sabah Hotel sales and selling executive Anthony Kong pronounced cancellations were fewer compared to early March, and groups who had deferred trips were reinstating their bookings. “In sequence to execute a tangible conditions here, we launched a array of YouTube videos where a guest yield testimonies, and we uploaded them for circulation,” he said. Kong combined that there had been several visitors who chose Sabah notwithstanding transport advisories warning them opposite it.

Although Sandakan is over 230km divided from Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu, a series of tourists had deferred or cancelled their holiday skeleton during a tallness of a conflict. Meanwhile, debate operators were bustling compelling a state’s several places of attraction, that embody a Kinabalu National Park, Layang-Layang island, Lok Kawi Wildlife Park and diving spots like Sipadan and Mabul islands.

Popular Express Travel Operations Manager Christopher Chung pronounced there had been a conspicuous dump in traveller numbers though they had given increasing and were now tighten to a monthly normal series of Sabah tours they arranged. “When a dispute was during a peak, a organisation of general propagandize students had diverted their end from Kota Kinabalu to Kuching as their relatives objected to a tour,” he said.

The Sabah Tourism Board, in a latest transport advisory, reliable all tourism activities in a state were handling as usual, including those on a easterly coast. Foreign transport advisories however, are still warning travelers to equivocate a whole eastern Sabah area as they fear a dispute might not be over yet.

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